Danielle Ate the Revolution

Liam H. Flake

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Danielle Anderson takes the stage, ukulele in hand. Silhouetted by the roundhouse’s central fluorescent halo, she sings of love and cavities and schnitzel from El Paso. She invites the audience to sing along, harmonizing in resonating tunes. Acoustic melodies fill the air—a solo ukulele concerto.

Uke Revolution was born not with a boom but in a whisper, beginning with meetings in back rooms of no more than a couple dedicated members. While today we enjoy the presence of a wide and diverse range of people that stop by Room 515 to jam out, this was only achieved after months of expansion. The club did not—no, was unable to—grow to welcome the student body openly until we got the grant.

Completing all the proper paperwork, exploring all the venues, club leader Lana Fain was able to obtain a grant for Uke Revolution in spring of 2018.  With it, the Fossil Ridge media center was graced with 30 ukuleles, each available for student check out. However, the secondary gift of the grant would not come to light until almost a year later.

In the beginning of the school year, we marked our calendars: March 8 would be the day that we would host renowned (and local) ukulele artist Danielle Ate The Sandwich. We tossed about ideas of a uku-lock-in and of open mic nights, but the concert was the event of the year for Uke Revolution.

About a month before the arrival of the famed ukulele artist, the preparations commenced. Who in the club would be able to make it? How would we get the word out? Where would it take place? As the anticipated date approached, obstacles arose and planning became chaotic. We finalized and received our new club tee shirts. A few club regulars were unable to attend, due to illness and prior commitments, but there were other members of the community that had expressed interest. We hung posters around the town and played CDs at lunch and debated how to boost attendance when the Sadie Hawkins dance was scheduled to coincide with the event. With March 8 upon us, plans for food were finalized and we took our positions for Danielle’s arrival.

I showed up that evening at 5:00 p.m., and after shaking hands with the featured musician, began to set up. After arranging and rearranging furniture and the installation of makeshift signs, our audience flooded in. The media center was populated by students and teachers and kids of teachers and even a kindergartner when Danielle began the workshop at 5:30.

The featured song for the evening’s workshop was one that Danielle had selected, but coincidentally one that we had played in our club meetings before. We started at the very beginning, learning the very fundamentals of the ukulele art, before quickly transitioning into the song itself. We took our time going through and acquainting ourselves with the song at a rate designed to be approachable to the masses (a rate that, admittedly, was a slower pace than usually taken in Uke Revolution meetings, but which fit the attendees.) We added in percussion parts to our tune and prepared for the transition into the concert with pizza in hand.

Members of the greater community arrived in a mass array of confusion, entering with some question as to where to go. A friend of the artist peddled merchandise at a card table in a corner of the roundhouse. After some redirection and last minute rearrangements, the concert began. After an introduction from Ms. Fain, Danielle Ate the Sandwich took the stage. Throwing in quips of humor and confessions of love for Shawn Mendes between songs, she created a performance that drew in the audience. At the finale of the concert, the attendees of the prior workshop were invited to the front to present the culmination of the preceding event in a combination dubbed “Danielle Ate the Revolution.” We performed an abbreviated version of Shawn Mendes’s “Stitches”, complete with a ukulele bass and the percussion parts that had been so carefully practiced, and were greeted with applause.

At the end of the night, I took a picture with Danielle and conversed briefly with her and Ms. Fain. I returned the pitcher we had used for water to the athletic hall and reflected on the turnout of the event with Ms. Fain. It had not gone precisely as planned, as we had not had as many students from Fossil itself as would have been preferred—but then again, few things do, and it was still a success in its own right. The event had been an enjoyable experience for those experienced on the uke, and an eye-opener for those who were not. In the aftermath, we can only hope that the workshop and concert have inspired new players to take up the instrument and become a musician, like the members of Uke Revolution or like Danielle herself.

After all, it is called the Uke Revolution for a reason: the ukulele is a positive force that spreads like wildfire to all around it.